July 28, 2021
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“Show me your vision, and I’ll show you your future.”
I was twenty-one when I heard those words, and I’ll never forget them. But it’s not just the words that impacted me; it’s the fact that they were spoken by the pastor of one of the largest churches in the world. His words carried extra weight because he knew whereof he spoke.
Very few people have dreamed bigger dreams or prayed harder prayers.
Scripture says that without a vision, people perish. The opposite is true as well: With a vision, people prosper. The future is always created twice. The first creation happens in your mind as you envision the future. The second creation happens when you literally flesh it out.
Vision starts with visualization. In 1995, Alvaro Pascual-Leone did a study validating the importance of visualization. A group of volunteers practiced a five-finger piano exercise while neurotransmitters monitored their brain activity.
As expected, neuroimaging revealed that the motor cortex was active while practicing the exercise.
Researchers told the participants to mentally rehearse the piano exercise in their mind. They found that the motor cortex was just as active while mentally rehearsing as it was during their physical practice.
Researchers came to this conclusion: imagined movements trigger synaptic changes at the cortical level.
That study confirmed statistically what athletes already knew instinctually. Mental rehearsal is just as important or more important as physical practice. It’s mind over matter.
And that is a testament to the power of right-brain imagination and the importance of well-defined dreams. When you dream, your mind forms a mental image that becomes both a picture of and a map to your destiny.
That picture of the future is one dimension of faith, and the way you frame it is by circling it in prayer.
In 1992, a Canadian swimmer named Mark Tewksbury won the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke at the Barcelona Olympics. When he stepped onto the gold medal stand, it wasn’t the first time he had done so. He had stood on the gold medal stand the night before the race when he imagined it before it happened.
He had visualized every detail of that race in his mind’s eye, including his come-from-behind victory by a fingertip.
The Australian sailing team did the same thing in preparation for the 1983 America’s Cup. The coach made a tape of the Australian team beating the American team three years before the actual race. He narrated the race with the background sound of a sailboat cutting through the water.
Every member of the team was required to listen to that tape twice a day for three years. By the time they set sail from San Diego Bay, they had already beaten the American team 2,190 times in their imagination.
The simple act of imagining doesn’t just remap your mind; it forms a map.
And that is the purpose of goal setting: If dreams are the destination, goals are the GPS that gets you there.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.